A judge on Tuesday vacated the double-murder conviction of a Chicago man who has spent the last 34 years in prison for the shooting deaths of two 14-year-old boys.
Francisco Benitez, 52, maintained his innocence in a motion for post-conviction relief, saying he had an alibi for the April 28, 1989, slayings of Prudencio Cruz and William Sanchez and that he was being framed by Chicago police detectives.
Cook County Judge Sophia Atcherson made the ruling, citing evidence supporting Benitez’s innocence presented during a hearing earlier this year. She released Benitez on a personal recognizance bond with electronic monitoring.
However, Benitez still faces murder charges because prosecutors haven’t dropped the case.
“This has been a very, very long road, and I’m glad my son is coming home,” his mother, Betty Benitez, said.
“This is not normal,” said Joshua Tepfer, one of Benitez’s attorneys from the Exoneration Project, of the volume of overturned convictions in Cook County. “It’s an epidemic. It’s a human rights violation.”